No, I’m not talking about Delta. Far from it. In fact, I’m not talking about any U.S. airlines, most of which I’ve flown, and none of which, so far as I can tell, love to fly (or at least love to make their customers happy).
I had the opportunity to fly to northern Europe aboard Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) earlier this summer, and I was shocked by the service. How could I be shocked, you wonder, after paying $6 for a plastic tray with two cheese slices and three grapes aboard Delta Airlines earlier in the year or standing in line for four hours after my Christmas flight on AirTran was cancelled and they then sent me racing to another airport (3 hours away) to catch an alternate ride?
I was shocked by the superior service. Yes, I said superior. Here I had been dreading my 8+ hour flight from Dulles to Copenhagen, knowing it was surely going to be hell. After all, I’d flown cross country (Richmond to Juneau) eight months earlier and was certain I’d never had such a long and miserable flight in my life, and this one was going to be across the Atlantic!
SAS set out to startle me. First, the seats were comfortable (and no, I was not in business class), and there was actually some leg room. My knees were not jammed up against the seat in front of me, and get this, all the food was free. And we’re not talking stale crackers and dried up prunes but full meals–truly steaming hot chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls with butter, cheese and crackers, chocolate cake for dessert, plus complimentary wine and beer. Yes, you read correctly. I said free alcohol.
And then, they offered free snacks throughout the flight, a lovely morning breakfast consisting of a ham and turkey sandwich with yogurt, hot moist towels, free movies, free music, free games.
I was utterly placated.
And that’s the idea. SAS has obviously grasped the notion that if you provide fine customer service you’ll have a lot fewer grumbling passengers making flight attendants’ lives miserable…and gasp, repeat business. (Did I mention I’m trying to figure out how to avoid flying in the U.S. ever again?)
Oh, yeah, and SAS didn’t raise a big stink about carry-on luggage either. No weighing. No extra charges. No telling you you couldn’t have that carry-on bag because that book you purchased at the airport counts as a carry-on, so either toss the book or check your handbag.
And what’s even more remarkable? On my one-hour connecting flight from Copenhagen to Oslo, I received breakfast again for free, of course. It was like flying in the 20th century–remember those days?
Who ever heard of starting a vacation (involving a flight) pleasantly? Thank you, SAS….